COVID-19 And Public Safety News

Lacking Protective Gear And National Standards, Police Innovate Through Coronavirus

WASHINGTON (SBG) — The coronavirus hasn’t put a stop to 911 calls. But experts say police officers in many places are missing key items when they respond: personal protective equipment and a national standard for how to handle a caller with COVID-19. As a result, many departments are innovating to keep officers safe in this crisis.

In Baltimore County, Maryland, the police department is being proactive in its approach to coronavirus, putting out videos to let the public know how they’ll look if a 911 call has a potential COVID-19 connection. The department also took another innovative step early on in the crisis: creating what they call a “STRIKE Team” to handle calls involving coronavirus.

“By creating that task force, it gave a lot of our other officers the peace of mind to know they weren’t consistently going to those types of calls for service,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt.


Coronavirus: NJ Gov. Orders State Police To Commandeer Needed Medical Supplies

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Phil Murphy has given New Jersey State Police orders to take N95 masks, ventilators and other personal protective equipment that health care facilities need in their race to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“While we look forward to these facilities cooperating with us and providing this equipment as needed, this order gives (police) the express authority to requisition it for distribution to our acute care hospitals and other healthcare facilities,” said Murphy in his daily COVID-19 briefing. “And needless to say, they badly need the equipment.”

The order came as New Jersey saw deaths related to COVID-19 illness jumped 182 in 24-hours to a total of 537. By Thursday, New Jersey had a total of 25,590 confirmed coronavirus cases across the state, reports CBS2’s Cory James.


Correction Officer Union Sues NYC Over Lack Of Supplies, Sanitized Facilities In Response To Coronavirus

The city has failed to adequately provide correction officers working at Rikers Island and other city jails the supplies they need to protect them from coronavirus, a new lawsuit says.

The suit — filed by the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association in Queens Supreme Court on Thursday — says the Department of Correction has also not properly sanitized facilities to ensure the safety of nearly 9,000 officers working in the jails.

“With no real or adequate policy or plan in place to address the COVID-19 virus on Rikers Island … that place of employment is unreasonably dangerous,” the suit says.


Rural Kansas’ Ambulance Crews Will Be Doubly Strained By Coronavirus

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — The Finney County Emergency Medical Service department, with its staff of 23, is conserving its N95 masks and only using them when a patient is positive for COVID-19. Like large hospitals, U.S. cities and entire European countries, rural EMS workers aren’t shielded from the medical supply shortage. 

And that’s just one of the challenges rural EMS agencies across Kansas stare down as COVID-19 is being confirmed in their communities. They’re stretched thin, covering hundreds of miles, and seeing the ripple effects from the pandemic that’s shut down communities — something emergency plans hadn’t accounted for. 

All of Kansas’ 105 counties have mutual aid agreements: If fire or EMS departments need backup, other counties step in to assist. Those may be the support that holds emergency services together in the coming months.


Coronavirus Concerns: First Responders Eligible For Workers’ Comp If They Contract Disease

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Police and first responders worry about safety, but what if they contract the coronavirus? Union officials say they are well aware of the concerns.

“The officers out there were not sure if they came down with it they would be covered by workman’s comp. The chief financial officer, Jim Patronis, along with the governor, they supported a me sure for that,” explained Miami-Dade PBA President Steadman Stahl. “Now, if first responders get effected by it, it will be covered by workers comp. It is a big relief to officers and family.”

Florida police officers, firefighters, paramedics and national guard will be eligible for workers’ compensation. But there is a catch. First responders will have to prove they contracted coronavirus at work.


Cedar Grove Ambulance and Rescue Squad to Stand Down During Pandemic

CEDAR GROVE, NJ – The Cedar Grove Ambulance and Rescue Squad will be “standing down” and no longer responding to emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic according to a public safety update given by Chief of Police Joseph Cirasa on Tuesday. 

As of Monday morning there are 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cedar Grove.  Cirasa assured residents that emergency services would continue via private providers.  Residents should continue to use 911 during any emergency situation.  


Puerto Rico Shutters Police Stations Amid COVID-19 Curfew

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico on Wednesday closed its fifth police station in a week, raising concerns about the U.S. territory’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic as officers accused the government of exposing one of the largest police departments in a U.S. jurisdiction to COVID-19.

More than 150 officers are under quarantine as dozens await test results on an island that has reported 11 deaths and more than 280 confirmed cases amid a month long curfew that has shuttered beaches, parks and non-essential businesses.

“It’s not fair that the government is dragging its feet. What do they want? To be left without police officers?” said Gregorio Matias, vice president of a local police union who demanded more protective equipment.


More Than 1,000 New York City Police Officers Have The Coronavirus As 911 Calls Hit Records

More than 1,400NYPD employees, including more than 1,000 officers, have contracted COVID-19 as emergency calls in the city hit record highs, the police chief said Wednesday.

Some 6,100 uniformed officers, or about 17% of the 36,000-strong workforce, called out sick Wednesday,Police Chief Terence Monahan said.

A day earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was “worried” about “essential workers getting scared and not wanting to show up. “You know the number of police officers who are getting sick is going up,” Cuomo said Tuesday.


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